Washington: Slamming the critics of the Iran nuclear deal, US President Barack Obama has said they failed to offer an alternative to the historic pact and were at odds with 99 per cent of the world, as he asserted that the debate over the issue was a choice between diplomacy and war.
"With this deal, we have the possibility of peacefully resolving a major threat to regional and international security. Without a deal, we risk even more war in the Middle East and other countries in the region would feel compelled to pursue their own nuclear programmes, threatening a nuclear arms race in the most volatile region in the world," Obama said at a White House news conference.
Asserting that this deal makes the US and the world safer and more secure, Obama said the alternative -- no limits on Iran's nuclear programme, no inspections, an Iran that is closer to a nuclear weapon, the risk of a regional nuclear arms race, and the greater risk of war -- would endanger American security.
"That's the choice that we face. If we don't choose wisely, I believe future generations will judge us harshly for letting this moment slip away," he said while trying to sell the deal which was expected to become his legacy.
Responding to the criticism coming from political opponents and also from Israel, Obama said for all the objections of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or, for that matter, some of the Republican leadership that has already spoken, none of them have presented a better alternative.
"If 99 per cent of the world's community and the majority of nuclear experts look at this thing and they say 'this will prevent Iran from getting a nuclear bomb,' and you are arguing either that it does not or that even if it does, it's temporary, or that because they're going to get a windfall, of their accounts being unfrozen that they'll cause more problems, then you should have some alternative to present. And I haven't heard that," he said.
"The reason is because there really are only two alternatives here. Either the issue of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon is resolved diplomatically through a negotiation or it's resolved through force, through war. Those are the options," Obama said.
"No one suggests that this deal resolves all the threats that Iran poses to its neighbours or the world. Moreover, realising the promise of this deal will require many years of implementation and hard work. It will require vigilance and execution. But this deal is our best means of assuring that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon. And from the start, that has been my number one priority, our number one priority," he said.
"We've got a historic chance to pursue a safer and more secure world, an opportunity that may not come again in our lifetimes. Without a deal, the international sanctions regime will unravel with little ability to reimpose them," Obama said.
"With this deal, we cut off every single one of Iran's pathways to a nuclear programme, a nuclear weapons programme," he said.
Iran's nuclear programme will be under severe limits for many years, Obama said.
"Without a deal, those pathways remain open. There would be no limits to Iran's nuclear programme, and Iran could move closer to a nuclear bomb. With this deal, we gain unprecedented around the clock monitoring of Iran's key nuclear facilities in the most comprehensive and intrusive inspection and verification regime ever negotiated," he said.
"Without a deal, those inspections go away and we'd lose the ability to closely monitor Iran's programme and detect any covert nuclear weapons programme. With this deal, if Iran violates its commitments, there will be real consequences, nuclear-related sanctions that have helped to cripple the Iranian economy will snap back into place," he warned.
Even with this deal, the US will continue to have profound differences with Iran like its support of terrorism, its use of proxies to destabilise parts of the Middle East, the US President asserted.
"Therefore, the multilateral arms embargo on Iran will remain in place for an additional five years, and restrictions on ballistic missile technology will remain for eight years," Obama said.
In addition, the US will maintain its own sanctions related to Iran's support for terrorism, its ballistic missile program, and its human rights violations, Obama stressed.
"We will continue our unprecedented security cooperation with Israel and continue to deepen our partnerships with the Gulf states," he said.
Obama said this nuclear deal meets the national security interests of the US and its allies.
It prevents the most serious threat -- Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon -- which would only make the other problems that Iran may cause even worse, he noted.